display | more...

The The Classical Anthology defined by Confucius is a work of poetry with a triple background. It is somewhere between a translation of the Shih Ching, or Book of Odes that was compiled from traditional folk songs by Confucius and an original work of poetry by American poet Ezra Pound.

In 1954, Ezra Pound (who was staying in a mental hospital at the time) released this work, which is his translation of the 305 poems or so that Confucius had compiled 2500 years earlier. Rather then trying to do a direct translation, (several of which already existed) Ezra instead tries to convey the feeling and imagery of the poems. It would be hard to believe that anyone raised in an English speaking culture of the 20th century, let alone someone of Ezra Pound's strange mentality and reprehensible politics could get inside the skin of the people of the Shang and Zhou (sometimes known as Chou) dynastys, but as far as I am able to guess, Ezra Pound truly sees with these people's eyes.

Much Chinese poetry has seemed rather stiff and formal to me, more a matter of intellect then of music. This could be a stereotype of mine, a matter of my misunderstanding of the Chinese language, or a later development of The Chinese literati. By not attempting to translate the Chinese literarlly, and instead using musical sounding phrases and English idioms, a feeling is given to what most of what an ode is, a poem meant to be sung. Many of these songs come across as work songs, or simple love songs. Many of the song reflects on the joys of nature. love of farming, and fellowship .Some of the songs seem to be merely people telling about their lives without trying to make a point. Others, in the tradition of both Confucius and Pound, come across as didactic lessons about politics and human nature.

All possible literary, politcal, anthropological, historical, etc lessons being ignored, these are still great poems, with a great turn of phrase. For example:

And at every drinking bout
some can hold it and some pass out
we appoint, at every rally
a toast-master and his keep-tally
so that those who can't hold their liquor
or, as we say, run true to form
are kept from worse enormity
of word or of activity
after three cupts cannot tell lamb
from horned ram, but still
want more liquor ardently

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.